The Fires of Atlantis (Purge of Babylon, Book 4)

The Fires of Atlantis
Book 4 in the Babylon Series
Sam Sisavath

The Fires of Atlantis

Copyright © 2014 Sam Sisavath

All rights reserved.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.

Published by Road To Babylon Media LLC

www.roadtobabylon.com

Edited by Jennifer Jensen and Wendy Chan

Cover Art by Creative Paramita

To everyone who helped make the series what it is – THANK YOU.

About The Fires of Atlantis

S
eparated
, but not out of the fight.

Gaby has been captured by a familiar figure from her past. Some might take captivity lying down, but they aren’t Gaby.

Will and Danny are close on Gaby’s trail, but their rescue mission is detoured in a city under siege by a very dangerous new breed of ghouls. The reunited ex-Army Rangers will face their toughest fight yet if they want to get out alive.

Back on Song Island, Lara prepares for an impending attack. She receives unexpected assistance from a man named Keo, an ex-mercenary with his own agenda.

Meanwhile, the survivors’ radio broadcast has elicited surprising responses from around the globe. It might be the start of a resistance against the ghoul domination…if Lara can keep everyone alive long enough.

Where The Purge begins, the Gates hold, and the Stones crumble, the Fires will burn…

Prelude


T
o any survivors out there
, if you’re hearing this, you are not alone. There are things you need to know about our enemy—these creatures of the night, these ghouls. They are
not
invincible, and they have weaknesses other than sunlight. One: you can kill them with silver. Stab them, shoot them, or cut them with any silver weapon, and they will die. Two: they will not cross bodies of water. An island, a boat—get to anything that can separate you from land. Three: some ultraviolet light has proven effective, but flashlights and lightbulbs with UV don’t seem to have any effect. We don’t know why, so use this information with caution. If you’re hearing this message, you are not alone. Stay strong, stay smart, and adapt. We owe it to those we’ve lost to keep fighting, to never give up. Good luck.”

Book One
S.E.R.E.
1
Keo

T
he scar tingled
whenever it got cold. And it was cold at night, even in October in south Louisiana. If he thought about something else—like Gillian, or better yet, Gillian in a bikini walking along a stretch of beach waiting for him—it was easy to forget that someone had very recently tried to carve his face like a jack-o’-lantern. The scar was a reminder of three months of running and fighting.

Remember when you didn’t give a damn about anyone but yourself?

You’re really getting soft, pal.

The earbud in his right ear
clicked
, interrupting the silence he had been enjoying for the last hour while waiting for darkness to fall. A voice said, “You’re putting your life in the hands of some girl you don’t know from Adam. If that doesn’t make you the dumbest man still alive, it’s gotta be pretty close.”

“You know what they say about lives,” Keo whispered into the throat mic. “The only thing certain is death and taxes. And since good ol’ Uncle Sam isn’t around anymore to collect the latter, where does that leave us?”

“You and us up a creek, San Diego.”

“So what else is new?”

“Leave the man alone with his death wish, Shorty,” a second voice said.

“We should be on Song Island right now, Zach,” Shorty said. “Wasn’t that the point of coming down here in the first place? But instead, we’re stealing people’s silver and turning them into bullets. What a big ol’ waste of time.”

“Song Island’s not going anywhere,” Zachary said. “It’ll be there when we get there. Besides, if the lady on the radio’s right, this could change everything. We might actually be able to kill these things. What did she call them?”

“Ghouls,” Keo said.

“Sounds about right.”

“We could have at least tried this closer to the water,” Shorty said. “Safer.”

“Since when did you start playing it safe?” Keo asked.

Shorty snorted. “We should have stayed on the boat. Wait for one of them to get close to the pier and test this theory out. Coming out here is stupid, Zach.”

“We tried that last night,” Keo said.

“This is too risky…” Shorty insisted.

“Life’s a risk, especially now,” Zachary said.

Keo couldn’t help but smile to himself. Shorty called him crazy, but he wasn’t the one who had voluntarily spent his nights in the ground wearing a ghillie suit while the bloodsuckers were running around—sometimes on top of them. He had been calling them
creatures
,
monsters
, and
bloodsuckers
, but the woman on the radio referred to them as
ghouls
. He guessed it was as good a name as any.

The woman on the radio also told him silver would kill these things.

I guess we’ll find out tonight…

He focused on the creature in the center of his weapon’s optic. It had been a good nine seconds since he acquired his target and laid the red dot directly over something that used to be a forehead. It was pruned, like someone’s asshole. He shouldn’t have been able to see the creature from this distance, but there was a full moon out tonight and he had a good perch.

“You guys could have stayed on the boat,” Keo whispered. “You didn’t actually have to come out here with me. I could have done this myself.”

“Someone had to watch your ass,” Zachary said in his right ear. “You’re used to working alone, kid, but we’re not.”

“Your funeral.”

“What a nice thing to say,” Shorty said. “I should have stayed at the park. You know what’s the best thing about sleeping on a boat? Not being surrounded by a few thousand ghouls.”

“A few thousand?”
You’re being overly generous there, Shorty. There’s got to be a few
tens
of thousands of the bloodsuckers out tonight…

“Well?” Zachary said.

“Well, what?” Keo whispered back.

“The one you got in your crosshairs right now. I assume it’s the same one I’m looking at. You going to shoot it or not?”

“Why so anxious? The two of you don’t even believe it’ll work.”

“Can you blame us?” Shorty said. “Silver bullets? Come on. That’s crazy.”

“Right. Silver bullets is crazy,” Keo said. “Because all of this is perfectly sane.”

Zachary chuckled. “He’s got you there, Shorty.”

Shorty wasn’t buying it. “I’m just saying. Why would silver bullets work when good ol’-fashioned lead don’t?”

“The lady on the radio says it works,” Keo said.

“You don’t even know who she is.”

“She sounded pretty sure of it. And she got the rest of it right. Sunlight, bodies of water… We know for a fact those work, too.”

“All right, all right,” Zachary said impatiently. “So get it over with and let’s see once and for all. I’m freezing my ass off out here, and Shorty’s all pruned up so much I might not be able to tell the difference between him and those ghouls pretty soon.”

“Just don’t accidentally shoot me in the ass,” Shorty said.

“No promises.”

“Relax,” Keo said. “You’re hiding inside the building while I’m up here on the rooftop. The only one who should be worried right now is me.”

“Don’t miss,” Shorty said. “As I recall, you’re not much of a long-distance shooter.”

“This isn’t much of a shot.”

“You hope.”

He tuned out the two men, along with the soft wind blowing through his hair and across the rooftop, scattering loose gravel around him.

Nice and slow. Breathe.

Keo tightened his forefinger against the trigger of the MP5SD. The long barrel of the submachine gun was steady against the brick edge in front of him. From his vantage point, he had a clear look at everything for a good block and a half. There were, at the moment, a handful of the creatures moving from building to building, but he didn’t have any illusions that that was the full extent of their numbers.

Where you find one, you find a hundred…or a thousand…

The one he was staring at stood underneath a streetlight. He imagined a pool of white circling the thing’s head, but of course there was no such thing. The city was pitch black at night, and had been for the last few days ever since he and Allie’s two boys arrived.

Nice and slow.

The creature was forty meters farther down the street. It wasn’t a terribly difficult shot. Your average Boot Camp graduate could have made it standing on his head with an M4 rifle. But he didn’t have a carbine. The MP5SD was a close-quarter combat weapon and was not designed for long-distance shooting.

Still, it was only forty meters. Even an up-close-and-personal shooter like him could probably make this shot.

Probably.

Breathe. Nice and slow.

Just breathe…

He squeezed the trigger and the 9mm round was away, the soft
pfft!
sound of the gunshot echoing slightly in the darkness, most of it muffled by the highly effective stainless steel suppressor connected to the end of the gun barrel. The noise made by the bullet casing as it ejected, then flicked through the air, before
clinking
on the rooftop was almost louder than the shot itself.

He watched through the scope as the creature jerked its head back and slumped to the sidewalk in a pile.

Holy shit.

“Holy shit,” Zachary repeated in his right ear.

“Sonofa
bitch
,” Shorty said, sounding slightly breathless.

Keo pulled the submachine gun back just in case the moonlight decided to give away his position on the rooftop. Below him, the creatures were converging on the dead one, their black-skinned and gaunt forms more silhouetted shadows than actual figures. What were they thinking now? Shock? Fear? Confusion? Did they even still think
at all?

“So, was it worth it coming out here tonight?” Keo whispered into the throat mic.

“Yeah, yeah,” Zachary said. “Stop gloating and get back down here before they spot you.”

Keo grinned, got up, and moved across the rooftop, keeping his profile as low as possible by bending at the waist. He snatched up his pack along the way, very aware of the
crunch-crunch
of his boots against the loose gravel floor. He slung the MP5SD as he reached the stairwell door and pulled it open, careful not to make a sound—or more than necessary, anyway, since it was impossible to be completely silent these days—and slipped inside.

He flicked on a small LED flashlight to navigate his way down the enclosed room, the only noise the soft
tap-tap
of his boots against concrete. He fought against the instinct to turn and flee when faced with darkened corners. Not too much, though; that instinct was what had kept him alive all these months, and it didn’t pay to water it down.

He flicked off the flashlight and entered the fifth floor through another door.

Zachary and Shorty were exactly where Keo had last seen them—still crouched at the window on the far side, peering through night-vision binoculars at the streets below. Zachary’s beaten and well-used Browning BAR rifle rested against the windowsill, while Shorty’s Winchester rifle was on the floor within easy reach. Both men wore jeans and black shirts, far removed from their ghillie suits and Robertson Park.

Chilly air filtered in through some of the broken windows up and down the floor, including the one in front of Zachary and Shorty. The office building was nestled in the heart of downtown Lake Dulcet, and in the daylight, it looked hauntingly abandoned like all the rest around it. The place didn’t look any better at night, but it was one of the few large structures that hadn’t revealed any signs of ghoul occupancy. It also had everything he needed, including a tall enough perch with an easy view of the area and a place to shoot from that couldn’t be traced back. Or at least, he hoped not.

“Silver bullets. Now I’ve seen everything,” Zachary said, looking over his shoulder at Keo. He was in his forties, with a thick patch of beard and a face, like Keo’s and Shorty’s, that hadn’t seen a decent soap or shower in weeks. “Maybe we should call you Tonto from now on.”

“Because I’m half-Korean that means I can’t be the Lone Ranger?” Keo said.

“I was thinking more because you’re a smartass troublemaker.”

Keo grinned. “I hate horses, anyway.”

The young man sitting next to Zachary, Shorty, remained fixed outside the window with his binoculars. “Man, you really stirred them up. They’re running around like chickens with their heads cut off. You better hope they didn’t hear that gunshot.”

“Did you hear it?” Keo asked.

“No.”

“Then I’m guessing they couldn’t hear it, either.”

“You
hope
,” Shorty said. “You know what I say about hoping these days?”

“What’s that?”

“Nothing.”

“I don’t get it.”

“Because there is no hope. Get it?”

Keo smirked. “You suck at this.”

“Whatever,” Shorty said. He lowered his binoculars and glanced at Zachary. “We locked the lobby doors, right?”

“Yup,” Zachary nodded. “Why?”

“Nothing, just wanted to make sure,” he said, and Keo thought the young man might have shivered slightly in the semidarkness, but that could have just been his imagination.

Keo crouched next to them at the window. He looked out at the shadows gliding up the street in their direction. After all these months, he still couldn’t quite get used to watching them moving around at night. This was their world now. There was no mistaking that. They—he, Zachary, and Shorty, and all the other humans still running around out there—were the outliers. The exception to the rule.

Santa Marie Island. That’s where you should be. With Gillian. On the beach.

Soon. Soon…

He could see the dead ghoul he had shot, farther down the sidewalk and left to lay where it had fallen. He had done that. Killed it. With a silver bullet. The reality of it was still a little hard to grasp.

But there it was. The evidence.

Daebak.

It had taken them days to collect enough of the valuable metal and find an Archers store in the city with the right bullet-making supplies. Despite Zachary’s and Shorty’s doubts (which he shared, if he was being honest), they all wanted to believe. The creatures had been unkillable except by sunlight for so long that just knowing you could take them out even at night was a game changer.

“You can kill them with silver,”
the recording had said.
“Stab them, shoot them, or cut them with any silver weapon, and they will die.”

Damn straight.

“Silver bullets,” Keo said. “If she’s right about that, what else do you think she knows?”

“The bodies of water and sunlight we already know,” Zachary said. “I don’t know where we’d get industrial strength ultraviolet lights, though.”

“I knew a couple of guys that grew some plants using those,” Shorty said. “I don’t know if they were industrial strength, but they looked pretty big to me.”

“I know one thing. We’re making a lot of silver bullets tomorrow.”

Shorty glanced at Keo. “Nice shot, by the way. I didn’t think you could hit a trash dumpster with that German peashooter.”

“You’d be surprised what a peashooter can do in the right hands,” Keo said.

“I bet. You ever gonna tell us what you used to do before all of this?”

“This and that, and some of those.” Keo leaned back against the wall and pulled a half-eaten granola bar from his pack and took a bite. “Next stop, Song Island?”

“After we make a shitload of silver bullets,” Zachary said. “As much as we can carry.”

“What about knives?”

“Silver knives?”

“Yeah.”

Zachary nodded. “Good idea. Give me a day, and I can come up with a lot more silver-based weapons.”

“Take your time,” Keo said. “It’s not like we’re going anywhere tonight—” He stopped in mid-sentence.

Zachary glanced over. “What?”

Keo looked across the empty floor at the stairwell door. He was still chewing, but there was no taste anymore. “Are you sure the lobby’s sealed?”

“Like I told Shorty, yeah. Why?”

“I thought I heard something.”

“Like what?” Shorty asked.

“Moving.”

“What kind of moving?” Zachary said.

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